Travel: Berlin

Berlin is my favorite place in the world – A great destination for ALL your holiday needs and well worth a visit, so I’m going to spread the love for Berlin, and encourage more people to visit!

When people think Berlin, they will probobaly draw an instant relationship with the interwar factions in the country, which resulted in the country being led by one of the most infamous men in history – Adolf Hitler. Nowadays, Berlin is changing. Truthfully, it has only just started to recognise its fast, with many claiming that the 2006 World Cup hosted in Germany caused the capital to lighten up its past. Even now, there is still reservedness about the topic and Neo Nazi groups exist in the city, but Berlin is fighting back!

It is a city loved by many A-list celebrities including Brad Pitt and Angeline Jolie, Madonna, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, and recently, Twilight star Kristen Stewart was spotted exploring the sights and sounds of Berlin

I can understand that many people may be put off by the city label Berlin carries, but do not fear. Lake Wansee on the ouskirts of birlin is home to one of the largest inland beaches in the world, where people from all over berlin go to relax, surrounded by beautiful countryside and the city in the distance. Yes beleive it or not, the picture is from Berlin – and it proves why the city is one of the best in the world. I personally do not know of any city in the world that mixes all surroundings together in one!

The Berlin 101!

  1. Name – Many berliners claim the city was named after the word bear, and the city even incorporates a bear in its logo, however the city is actually named so because it was built on a swamp. The name Berlin comes from an old slavic word – ‘berl’ – translated as swamp in English.
  2. History – The city was founded in the 12th century, and has been capital of Germany since the mid to late 1800’s.
  3. Population – The city is 90% German inhabitants. The next biggest nationality in Berlin in Turkish, and Berliners often joke that there are more Turks than Germans living in Berlin. There are also large Slavic, Nordic, Arab, Eastern Asian and Central European groups in Berlin.
  4. Currency – Formerly, Germany ran on the Deutschmark, however now uses the Euro throughout.
  5. Religion – Berlin is mostly Athiest, with the largest religious movement the evangeical church. Due to its large nationality groups from all over the world, there is no definite religion in Berlin.
  6. Employment – Berlin has one of the highest unemployment rates in Europe at about 17%, although in recent years, this is improving and beginning to trend downwards.
  7. Transport – Berlin has excellent transport links and one of the most highly commended undergrounds in the world. Rougly 1.4 million motor vechiles use Berlins roads, compared with about 3.5 million in London

Sight to see and place to visit in and around Berlin

  1. Reichstag – an absolute must – free entry, although rigorous security check take place, so don’t take anything suspicious in with you. http://www.berlin-tourist-information.de/cgi-bin/sehenswertes.pl?id=13362&sprache=english
  2. The Brandenburg Gate – right next to the Reichstag – is one of the most well known monuments in Berlin today. It is the symbols of reunification between east and west germany http://www.berlin-tourist-information.de/cgi-bin/sehenswertes.pl?id=13340&sprache=english
  3. Sachsenhausen – Not really for sightseeing. This is a former Nazi concentration camp and SS training base. Accessible by the cities S-bahn and U-bahn system. http://www.stiftung-bg.de/gums/en/geschichte/bilder/ge_b02_hell.jpg This picture from the website shows the prisoners lined up. The gun you can see on the right was positioned on the control tower, and if one of the prisoners stepped out of line, they were killed by the gun. http://www.stiftung-bg.de/gums/en/index.htm
  4. Fernmeldeturum Berlin – A huge telecommunications tower in Berlin. It is based in the center of Alexanderplatz, whcih in itself is a lovely place with a huge clock and a big waterfall and lots of restaurants. I beleive you can eat at the fernmeldeturum, but there are often queues and it can be expensive. Here is some of my lovely Fernmeldeturum art http://thebeautifuljoker.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d28r8fh
  5. Berlin Zoo – Knut. Dare I say more. BTW its pronounced kuh-nute, not nut. An old friend went to Berlin for a few weeks about a month before I did and made the mistake of having many Germans laugh at her when she called him nut. The first picture in this article is of TomKat and their uber adorable daughter suri strolling around the zoo. http://www.zoo-berlin.de/en.html
  6. Hotel Adalon – Near to the Brandenburg Gate, this is where MJ dangled blanket over the balcony – definitely worth a picture!
  7. Holocaust memorial – Just behind the America embassy, Kunst museum, the Hotel adalon and the British embassy, this huge modern memorial made up of thousands of concrete blocks is a memorial to all those who lost their lives in the holocaust. This is the memorial Kristen Stewart is pictured at above
  8. Checkpoint Charlie – A very popular attraction and formerly the gate into the American sector of Berlin. You can have a photo with the guards or buy some cool merchandise – I got a lovely jute bag! Incidently, my grandfather served here during and after WWII. http://www.mauermuseum.de/english/frame-index-mauer.html
  9. The Berlin Opera Houses – Three beautiful opera buildings that regularly host proms. Nice if you want to see a broader history of Berlin, or if you like classical music.
  10. The Volkswagen showroom – This is one for car fans. At this showroom, they have, in my opinion, the greatest car ever built – the Bugatti Veyron. They do still have it from what I’m aware. When I went, I was concerned they might have removed it, but great news! The VW showroom has a permanent section for Bugatti (who is owned by VW), and since this is the only car currently on the road, its here to stay, although hopefully it will be replaced with the new Bugatti Veyron Super Sport – the world fastest ever car!
  11. The Ku’damm – Better known as the Kurfurstendamm, this street is shoppers paradise, and contains the world renound KaDeWe – Europes largest department store. Germans and people who have ever been to KaDeWe consider anyone who has a paper bag from KaDeWe to be very rich. It is very high end. When I went, I ended up bringing home a jar of caviar, which is disgusting by the way, but gives you an indication of the type of things they sell. It also contains A LOT of H&Ms. Towards the top end of the street, you will find all your designer shops. Best day shopping ever. The Steiff shop is like heaven – I ended up buying an adorable Knut Steiff!
  12. Wansee – Beautiful lake with a lovely beach. Worth a visit if you gaven’t been to a beach in ages, or fancy a different sort of beach. This one is surrounded by woods and not an ice cream van or seafood stall in sight.
  13. Experience the nightlife – Berlin is fast becoming Europe, possibly even the worlds biggest party scene – since the fall of the Berlin wall, clubbing has become a huge past time of Berlin yougsters and is easily overtaking Ibiza as the 18-30 party capital, although in Berlin, its more like 16 – 40. The city is very relaxed with its laws regarding age of consent to do activities like clubbing as there is very little crime, or few problems like drinking, drugs, alcohol and teen pregnancy, so the government is much more relaxed
  14. Appreciate the art – I’m not talking about the Kunst museum (an art museum by Adalon). Berlin is full of Graffitti, but not vandalous grafitti like in London – Berliners actually encourage it – many see it as a sign of freedom from the days when Berlin was non-independent, and the grafitti often emulates this.
  15. See Ample man – He is the only good thing communists brought to Berlin – you might find him if you want to cros the road in East Berlin and is easily recognised by his cute hat. Tourists seem to have a thing for him and you can buy everything from Ample man ice cube trays to Ample man sunloungers!

For now, that is Berlin. Hopefully I can add more info later. Bye for now!

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